Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal with Peaches

I adore recipes that allow me to assemble the ingredients well in advance so that there is little work at meal-time. This baked oatmeal is one of those fabulous recipes. A hearty, healthful breakfast is just a few simple steps away. Assemble the oatmeal at night prior to heading to bed. Toss some fresh fruit into the mix in the morning. Pop the dish into the oven. Brew up some coffee. And, grab some spoons!

Using steel cut oats is key here (they are easily found in the cereal/oats section of most supermarkets these days). They hold up well in the fridge overnight amidst the creamy, perfectly-spiced liquid and have such an awesome texture once baked up in this sensational breakfast dish.

Fresh peaches are used here, but this baked oatmeal works great with any fruit that I've tried (blueberries are another favorite add-in for us in this recipe). And, frankly, I think this recipe would work even if you didn't add any fruit into the mixture.

I bring together a little shredded coconut, chopped nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup to really enhance the oats. I, also, mix a little quinoa in with the steel cut oats, but it can be omitted if you're not a fan or don't have it on hand. (Just replace the quinoa with additional oats.)

To serve, scoop some of the baked oatmeal into a bowl, top with a sprinkling of brown sugar (or a drizzle of honey) and pour on a little milk or cream right before digging in.

Serves 4 - 6.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Coconut and Quinoa Granola

Making granola at home is so easy and allows for you to control the ingredients. I've made lots of versions of granola through the years, but this recipe has really caught on in our house as the top contender to nab the title of "Best Homemade Granola Ever."
I just recently started adding quinoa to my granola. Doing so results in unexpected, yet fun little pops of texture and crunch. And, I like that the quinoa doesn't even have to be cooked prior to assembling the granola.

Granola is one of those recipes that can be adapted easily according to what is on hand and taste preferences. If you like pecans instead of sunflower seeds, go for it. Prefer a stronger cinnamon flavor? Use two teaspoons instead of one. Just be sure to keep the general measurement guidelines the same as you go along.

When I make granola, my family utilizes it mostly as a topping for yogurt. We almost always serve that with some sort of fresh fruit or a good-quality jam/preserve. If we want the granola more for snacking on its own, I usually toss in some dried fruit after the granola comes out of the oven ... we prefer the combination of raisins, dried cherries and dried apricots added in.

I will mention that this granola is not overly sweet. Honey and a little brown sugar are included in the ingredient list, but I don't like my granola cloyingly sweet. I should note, also, that I use unsweetened coconut, but sweetened can be used if desired. We usually serve our granola, yogurt and fruit "bowls" with honey drizzled on top, so that gives everything a little touch of additional sweetness, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mexicali Loaded Salad Bowl with Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing

I am a sucker for loaded salads in the summer. I especially dig salads that are substantial and filling enough to stand alone as a meal. This Mexicali Loaded Salad Bowl is one of those salads.

I love that loaded salads are usually a pretty economical choice as a summer meal option ... one or two chicken breasts, for example, can be stretched in a salad such as this one to feed like, four people. And, although the ingredient list may appear to be a little long, everything is super inexpensive and many are items we tend to have on hand.

This salad starts with a base of crisp iceberg lettuce. Then, ingredients like, seasoned grilled chicken, brown rice, crispy tortilla strips, grilled corn and beans are simply arranged atop the lettuce in a large serving bowl in whatever manner you desire. This monster of a salad then gets served with a creamy avocado dressing and lots of lime wedges. It's a salad that's bursting at the seams with flavor and is laden to the hilt with amazing textures. It's the perfect combo of fresh veggies, tender bites of chicken, citrus zip, a touch of heat and a whole bunch of deliciousness.

Pair with a cold beer and you've got yourself one winner of a summer salad.

Serves 4.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Summer Quinoa and Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

The heat and humidity have really kicked in just in the past week or so here in Southern Michigan. We've had quite the mild summer up until now (pretty much ideal weather for this girl). It has been around seventy degrees during the day and has cooled down to the high-fifties at night. We've had enough rain to keep everything green and watered. And, have enjoyed just perfect weather conditions overall. Bliss.

Up until now. The heat index has been close to 100 degrees over the past week or so. Blah!

(Can you tell that I don't do well with high temps and lots of humidity?)

Much of our summer meals are centered around salads, grilling and sandwiches (like, my Sonoma Chicken Salad Sandwich). You probably won't find me slaving away over a big pot of chicken and dumplings very often this time of year. Instead, I serve a lot of salads - all sorts of fresh, beautiful salads. They may be big, loaded salad bowls served family-style (such as my Berry "Peachy Keen" Grilled Chicken Salad Bowl) or some version of a taco salad.

This salad is light and chocked full of fresh ingredients. It is incredibly simple and quick to whip up. The vinaigrette is super flavorful and couldn't be easier to make.

You will regularly find brown rice, quinoa, farro and/or wheat berries on-hand in my fridge. I like to cook up batches to have ready to use in salads or for side dishes. And, since I always have lots of fresh fruits and veggies stocked up each week throughout the summer, salads such as this one come together in a matter of minutes. The recipe can easily be adapted to serve more people if needed as a side dish for a party or gathering. Or, it can be prepared as shown to serve as a simple summer lunch or dinner option for a couple of people.

Serves 2.